Lurgan Celtic bowed out of the Irish Cup last Saturday, but not without pup a superb fight against unbeaten Championship 1 side Bangor.
Bangor were favourites to win having beaten Crusaders twice in the past few weeks and they also beat Glentoran at the Oval so Celtic were under no illusions about the task facing them.
The home side took the game to the Hoops from the start but the defence coped well with any attacks that came their way with the backline of McVeigh John Cochrane Jonny McCarron and Nathan McConnell composed.
In attack Celtic’s Chris Lavery had the Bangor right back under pressure every time he was on the ball while Daniel Ryan and Fitzpatrick kept the home rearguard busy with Colly Rooney and Dale Malone backed up by Jason Rodgers.Bangor played some good football in their approach play but couldn’t get a goalbound shot on target and when they fired in several good balls McCorry in the Celtic goal was up to the task showing sound handling ability in dealing with them.
Just as it looked like the Hoops would keep the home side scoreless in the first half Bangor took the lead with a sweeping move and when the ball was played into the box Hall hit it home first time on the half hour.
Bangor upped their game and extended the lead on 32 minutes when a ball caught out the Hoops defence and Boylan fastened unto it and despite the attentions of a defender slotted past McCorry making the score
The Hoops played themselves back into the game and started making inroads towards the Bangor defence with Lavery a constant thorn in their side and McVeigh sent in several good crosses that were cleared.
In the 41st minute the game swung Celtic’s way when they reduced the arrears with a sensational strike from Dale Malone who received the ball 40 yards from goal, he hit the ball like a guided missile past Cairnduff to the amazement of everyone in the ground. A brilliant goal which would be a candidate for goal of the season in any grade of football.
The second half saw Celtic take the game more to Bangor and by now the home side knew they were in a real contest and the play went from end to end as Bangor sought to kill the game off while Celtic showed intent to get an equaliser with Lavery when he was on the ball causing problems.
Niall Lavery joined the action on 66 minutes replacing McConnell to give the Hoops an extra attacking option and he put in a good performance linking up well while down the middle Fitzpatrick was winning most of the aerial battles but that elusive breakthrough just wouldn’t come.
Lavery received the ball on the halfway line and went on a run taking him past several defenders but was crowed out as he entered the box and as he tried to retrieve the situation got injured and had to be taken off leaving Celtic to finish the game with 10 men.
Despite the disappointment of defeat Celtic can take heart from the fact that they pushed the top team in the league above them all the way
Celtic Youth played Armagh City Youth at the Gordon Playing Fields in the semi-final of the Decor Trophy and qualified for the final when they won 6-1 with goals from Jonathan Douglas,Aaron Rodgers (2), Kevin McAlinden, Connell O’Hagan and Caolan Lavery.